Jamaica’s leading LGBT rights group has condemned the brutal beating by university security guards of a student accused of having had gay sex.
The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-Flag) said on Friday that it was “deeply concerned about the high levels of crime and violence across Jamaica,” especially “those violent incidents which are the result of sexual prejudices and hate”.
On the 1st of November, a student at the University of Technology (UTech) in Kingston was filmed being beaten by security officers tasked with protecting him from violence. It is alleged he was found in a compromising position with another man, who apparently managed to escape.
J-Flag said that video, posted on YouTube, is disturbing and demonstrates that the mechanisms put in place to protect students at the university failed.
“While the chanting of a mob of students encouraging further violence was disconcerting, it was harrowing to witness security guards, employed to protect the institution and its students, faculty, other staff and visitors, deploying violence instead of preventing it,” said the organisation.
It added that, “This incident is evidence of the malignant level of homophobia, which continues to pervade all levels of Jamaican society and ravage lives”. The group has documented between 30 and 40 cases of violence related to the victims’ sexual orientation or gender identity annually over the past three years.
J-Flag called on Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, opposition leader and ministers of national security and education to take urgent action to address the “chronic demonstration of intolerance for LGBT Jamaicans”. It also extended an offer of support to both men involved in the incident and their friends and families.
Earlier this year, before taking office, Simpson Miller said that she was open to reviewing the criminalisation of homosexuality in her country but has not yet made any moves in this regard.
The video clip of the attack on the student by the security guards has since been removed from YouTube for violating the site’s “terms of service”.